VATICAN CITY, October 22, 2015 (ChurchMilitant.com) - Pope Francis announced at the start of today's Synod of Bishops that he will be abolishing the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Council for the Family, to be replaced by a new dicastery with a focus on both laity and family.
I have decided to establish a new Dicastery with competency for Laity, Family and Life, that will replace the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Council for the Family. The Pontifical Academy for Life will be joined to the new Dicastery.
To this end, I have constituted a special commission that will prepare a text delineating canonically the competencies of the new Dicastery. The text will be presented for discussion to the Council of Cardinals at their next meeting in December.
The Pontifical Council for the Laity was established in 1967 under Bd. Pope Paul VI, and is tasked with assisting the Holy Father in matters regarding the work of the laity in the life of the Church, both as individuals as well as communities operating within the Church. According to the 1988 apostolic constitution Pastor Bonus, its mission is "to urge and support lay people to participate in the life and mission of the Church in their own way, as individuals or in associations, especially so that they may carry out their special responsibility of filling the realm of temporal things with the spirit of the Gospel."
The Pontifical Council for the Family, founded by Pope St. John Paull II in 1981, and is responsible "for the promotion of the pastoral ministry and apostolate to the family, through the application of the teachings and guidelines of the Church's Magisterium." Its areas of competence include marriage preparation, catechesis of the family, marital spirituality, and family rights, as well as demographics, contraception and abortion.
It is presumed the new dicastery will combine the focus of both pontifical councils into one organization, with the added contribution of the Pontifical Academy for Life.